(Kabul) Evacuations of foreigners and Afghans who fled the new Taliban regime reached their home straight at Kabul airport on Sunday, two days before the planned US withdrawal and for fear of another bloody attack.
Posted on Aug 28, 2021 at 11:51 am Updated Aug 29, 2021 at 7:32 am
David FOX Agence France-Presse
Following the suicide bombing by the Islamic State group in Khorasan (EI-K) that killed more than 13 American soldiers and nearly a hundred Afghans among the thousands who gathered outside the airport on Thursday to leave the country, Joe Biden warned that an imminent new attack was “very likely” there.
Since the Taliban’s sudden seizure of power in mid-August, following the debacle of the Afghan army, which was supported by the Americans and their allies long before they began their withdrawal, more than 112,000 people have left the country on board the chartered Noria, particularly Westerners, that follow one another on the asphalt.
The pace of evacuations has slowed in recent days as many European countries, including the UK and France, face an unsuccessful war against the Taliban two days before the 31st.
This brief delay raises fears that some Afghans who are threatened by the Taliban, especially those who have worked with foreign forces or civilians over the past two decades, will not be evacuated.
The chaotic situation at Kabul airport, plagued by thousands of exile candidates shortly after the Taliban’s return, took a dramatic turn on Thursday with the bloodshed caused by the suicide bombing of ISIS K, rival of the Taliban and the author of several deadly attacks in the Country in recent years.
The tension remained high on Sunday, Joe Biden had estimated on Saturday evening that “the situation on site” was “extremely dangerous” and “the risk of a terrorist attack on the airport” […] high, ”added that he had been informed by his commanders that“ an attack within 24 to 36 hours was very likely ”.
A few hours later, the American embassy in Kabul asked all Americans to leave the area around the airport, as in the past few days, “because of a concrete and credible threat”.
According to the latest reports of Thursday’s attack, local hospitals have recorded 90 dead and 150 injured. Some local media reported 170 fatalities. Thirteen American soldiers and two British also died.
In retaliation, the US military announced that its drones had bombed “significant targets” of IS-K in eastern Afghanistan, killing two high-ranking jihadists without disclosing their names.
“This strike wasn’t the last,” warned Joe Biden. “We will continue to hunt down anyone involved in this hideous attack and make them pay.”
In Kabul, the Taliban consolidated their power above all around the airport, the last enclave occupied by the West under American leadership before the withdrawal.
On Saturday, according to AFP journalists, heavily armed Taliban fighters circulated on the grounds and in auxiliary buildings of the airport when American soldiers observed them from the roof of the passenger terminal.
The Taliban have cordoned off the roads leading to the airport and only allow approved buses, of which more than a dozen passengers unloaded at the airport’s main gate on Saturday.
Thursday’s attack caused the Taliban and the Americans to work more closely together. “We have lists from the Americans […] If your name is on the list, you can pass, ”a Taliban official told AFP.
The attack wiped out the crowd of thousands of Afghans who had previously gathered outside the premises for days in hopes of gaining access to the tarmac, AFP noted.
Turkey has started talks with the Taliban to get the airport back into operation. According to its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Taliban want to monitor the security of the airport and offer Ankara to take over the logistics there.
Heavily criticized for his management of the Afghanistan crisis and the American withdrawal, Joe Biden has promised to meet the airlift deadline. After the attack on Thursday, NATO and the European Union called for the evacuations to continue despite everything.
The UK ended its evacuation on Saturday with the departure of a plane carrying its last soldiers.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace estimates that up to 1,100 Afghans who are allowed to travel to the UK have been left behind. London will welcome them if they manage to leave the country by other means after the deadline, General Nick Carter said, saying it was “heartbreaking” not to have to “get everyone out”.
Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia have also indicated that they have completed their evacuation flights.
Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that France had already evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan and was “holding talks” with the Taliban and Qatar to continue evacuating threatened Afghans.
France and Great Britain will plead on Monday at the United Nations for the creation of a “protection zone” in Kabul to carry out humanitarian operations, the French President also told the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
Since their return, the Taliban have tried to create an image of openness and moderation. But many Afghans, often urban and educated, fear that they would only establish such a fundamentalist and brutal regime between 1996 and 2001.
Their fears are fueled by various testimonies from Afghans in Kabul and elsewhere that the Taliban are persecuting those who have collaborated with their former enemies.
On Friday in Doha, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a former Taliban negotiator in Friday’s peace talks, tried to calm the plight of women and said they had “an innate right” to work.
A meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan will be convened at the United Nations on Monday.